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Anti-G7 demonstrators prepare for summit protest

Thousands of people have begun arriving in the Bavarian alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to rally against the summit of the Group of Seven. Leaders from the world’s largest economic powers meet nearby on Sunday.

More than 10,000 people are expected to demonstrate Saturday ahead of the opening of the Group of Seven (G7) summit, involving leaders of seven major economic powers at the luxury Elmau alpine hotel 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away, close to the border with Austria.

On a 3,000-square-meter (3,222-square-feet) open field near Garmisch, some 1,000 demonstrators had gathered with tents and sleeping bags by early Saturday morning. Thousands more were expected to be bussed in from across Germany ahead of the summit's opening on Sunday.

Escalation 'not planned'

Organizers of the "Stop Elmau" campaign expressed hope that their demonstrations would not turn violent.

“Our protest is diverse. Even blockades and acts of civil disobedience form part of it,” a spokesperson for the demonstrators told Germany's DPA news agency.

“We are not planning any escalation,” he added.

More than 20,000 police officers have been deployed to the region to guard leaders of the G7 nations – the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy, France, Japan and Germany.

Germany federal police, based in Potsdam near Berlin, said they had conducted thousands of spot checks at borders. Normally, German borders are open and unchecked under Europe's Schengen Agreement.

‘Freedom of assembly'

Late on Friday, a German court granted permission for 50 protestors to stage a demonstration within sight and earshot of the secluded summit venue.

The Munich administrative court said in its ruling that it placed high value on the freedom of assembly, saying the small protest group would be allowed near the Elmau hotel, a modernized and enlarged palace, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the other G7 member leaders would be meeting.

The protest group will not be allowed inside a area cordoned off around the venue.

The anti-G7 demonstrators launched their protests on Thursday when about 35,000 held a rally in Munich, calling on G7 leaders to head off the threat of global warming and to address social fallout from globalization.

jlw/ipj (AP, dpa, AFP)

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